This day is like a minefield for me. And I feel selfish even saying that. My mother is still alive and I choose to keep my distance. No, it's more than choice. I have to keep my distance. I have to. Because I have worked far too hard at putting myself back together again to let her come in and pull out my still healing stitches. And she would.
She sent me a letter a while ago. A handwritten note. I handed it to my therapist who read it with arched brow. And then went to photocopy it for my file and instructed me to go home and put it away and just not think about it anymore. Which is hilarious since a large part of my work now is to stay present in the moment and to feel my feelings when they happen. Because I learned to not be present on her watch. I learned that when someone was hurting me that the best thing was to just not feel it. I learned that I wasn't safe and that there was nothing I could do about it. There was no parent who was going to protect me. So I got very good at not feeling it. I got good at acting normal. I would crack a joke to hide my pain. I didn't dare show a vulnerability to be turned against me later. I learned that she could really give me something to cry about if she wanted, and sometimes she wanted.
I had a nearly full on panic attack in session a few weeks ago and my therapist had no idea until I confessed the next week. We sat, 5 feet apart while I fell apart inside with my heart trying to race, the room spinning, my stomach churning, my mind racing. And I couldn't pipe up and say that I was not OK. To someone who is there to help me. Who isn't going to hurt me. And who is a clinician who deals with trauma and knows how to spot these things a mile away.
And that's why I have cut ties. I can see no version of my life at this time that includes being well and having a relationship with her. I can have one of those things. I picked me.
This year there is a new layer to the day. An emptiness that I haven't quite felt before. The kind that catches in my throat and makes it hurt to swallow a little bit. Because I am not a mother. And before I found out that was even remotely possible I was OK with it and I accepted it was part of the hand I was dealt. Sure getting wished a happy mother's day just because you look old enough to have kids has sucked pretty much every year for a decade. But by not being a mother I was also not going to risk becoming her, I was in control. It was my choice and now, it's not.
This year I am no longer childfree. For the first time in my life I am childless and so aware of it that sometimes it hurts. It hurts to breathe. My eyes sting with tears. My belly aches. I press on with the work I do in therapy, because forward has become the only acceptable direction for me to go. If the time comes, I cannot allow myself to be her. I don't want any child of mine to feel unsafe. To feel frightened of me. To feel so alone that it hurts. To be afraid to cry in front of me. To feel like I did.